California Motorist – Bill of Rights

This information is designed to assist you in handling claims with your own insurance company.

The Automotive Repair Act of 1971 states that a customer shall receive:

  1. A written estimate for repair work.
  2. A detailed invoice of work done and parts supplied.
  3. Return of replaced parts, if requested at the time a work order is placed. Questions concerning the above information should be directed to the manager of the repair facility.
  4. Questions concerning the above should be directed to the manager of this repair facility.
  5. Unresolved questions regarding service work may be submitted to: (see below)

Q: Do I have the right to take my car to the shop of my choice?

A: Yes – You may select the repair facility of your choice unless your insurance policy specifies otherwise.

[see Choice of Auto Repair Shops – California Dept. of Insurance]

Q: Should my insurance company be notified before repairs?

A: Yes – your insurance policy generally states that, if requested, you must file a sworn proof of loss, exhibit the damaged property, and submit to examination under oath.

Q: Do I need to contact more than one shop for an estimate?

A: No – Generally, one estimate from the shop of your choice is required, unless your insurance policy specifies otherwise. California State law requires you be given a written estimate before starting repairs.

Q: Am I responsible for the cost of repairs?

A: Yes – You are usually responsible to the repair facility for payment of repairs unless your insurance policy specifies otherwise. Ordinarily, if you are insured, your insurance policy states that the insurance company will pay you for the loss, less any applicable deductables or depreciation. Any arrangements for payments by your insurance company are your responsibility.

Q: Is the repair facility responsible for the repairs performed on my car?

A: Yes – The Automobile Repair Act of 1971 requires all repair dealers to be registered with the State of California and to post a sign. This Act [Section 9884.7(1)(g)] states that the Department of Consumer Affairs may invalidate the registration of the repair dealer for a number of causes, including:

  • making any statement written or oral which is untrue or misleading;
  • causing a customer to sign any work order which is untrue or misleading;
  • failing or refusing to give to a customer a copy of any document requiring hia or her signature, as soon as the customer signs such document;
  • any other conduct which constitutes fraud;
  • any willful departure from or disregard of accepted trade standards for good and workman like repair.

Q: If I am having diffculties with my insurance company, do I have recourse?

A: Yes – First consult with your insurance agent or broker. Then, if your problems still have not been resolved, consult with the Department of Insurance, State of California, at their office in Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, or San Diego, or telephone their toll free line: 1-800-927-4357

Q: If my insurance company does not agree with the amount of loss, do I have recourse other than the State of California Department of Insurance?

A: Yes – Your insurance policy may provide that, when the insured and insurer fail to agree on the amount of loss, both parties are entitled to arbitration.

Q: Can an Insurer require, direct, suggest or recommend that your automobile be repaired at a specific shop?

A: No – Unless the referral is expressly requested by you; or you have been informed in writing of the right to select the repair facility; and The insurer that elects to repair a vehicle directs, suggests or recommends that a specific repair shop be used, shall cause the damaged vehicle to be restored to its condition prior to the loss at no additional cost to you other than as stated in the policy or as otherwise allowed by law.

Q: Can my insurer require me to use non-original equipment manufacturer (non-OEM) replacement crash parts for the repair of my car?

A: No – No insurer shall require the use of non-OEM replacement crash parts in the repair of an automobile unless:

The parts are at least equal to the original equipment manufacturer parts in terms of quality, safety, fit and performance; and
Insurers specifying the use fo non-OEM replacement crash parts shall pay the cost of any modifications to the parts which may become neccessary to effect the repair; and
Insurers specifying the use of non-OEM replacement crash parts warrant that all such parts are of like kind, quality, safety, fit and performance as OEM replacement crash parts.


For further information, refer to:

State of California Department of Insurance
700 L Street
Sacramento, California 95814

State of California Department of Insurance
1407 Market Street
San Francisco, California 94103

State of California Department of Insurance
600 S. Commonwealth
Los Angeles, California 90005

State of California Department of Insurance
1350 Front Street, Room 5954
San Diego, California 92101

Unresolved questions regarding service work performed may be submitted to:

Bureau of Automotive Repair
Toll-Free Telephone (800) 952-5210
Monday through Friday

Source: California Autobody Association – Consurmer Collision Info – CA MOTORIST BILL OF RIGHTS